Rarest of Twins Born With Single Body

Faith and Hope born in Australia on Thursday

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted May 12, 2014 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – As far as rare births go, this is one of the rarest: twins born with a single body but two faces. It's a condition called cranial duplication or "diprosopus"—Greek for "two faces"—and only 35 such births are known to have occurred. Though most media reports say none of these infants has survived, most having been stillborn, a girl born with two faces in India in 2008 lived two months, and the Dexter Daily Statesman in March profiled Missouri's Tres Johnson, a "little miracle" born with diprosopus who is now age 10. Both those children were identified as a single child; but "even though there is only one body, we call them our twins," dad Simon Howie tells Women's Day of Faith and Hope. The girls, who were born Thursday in Sydney, Australia, are "breathing perfectly on their own and feeding," says Howie, describing the two as "little Aussie fighters."

Howie and partner Renee Young, already parents to seven kids, learned about the girls' condition in the 19th week of pregnancy; they were born six weeks early, sharing one skull that bears their identical faces and two brains. They have a single set of limbs and organs. The girls' prospects are largely unknown. One expert in complicated pregnancies tells the Herald Sun, "The physical structures in the chest are probably consistent with a single person, but how the neurology works and how the brain is connected—that is really hard to determine whether they will function normally." (Another rare set of twins were born last week: "mono mono twins.")

Baby with two faces born in Sydney, Australia.   (POZAPAPO)
  (©)
In this March, 2014 photo Brandy Johnson of Bernie, Mo., sits with her 10-year-old son, Tres, who was born with diprosopus.   (AP Photo/Daily Statesman, Corey Noles)
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